Several important education bills were retained from the previous legislative session and will be among the first order of business when the 2016 session opens in early January. It is important to contact your House Representatives and Senators over the holidays. Phone calls are most effective, but emails from their constituents make a significant impact.
*HB 536, relative to payment for special education services for chartered public school students and relative to federal funds for chartered public schools
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass with Amendment, vote 19-0
position — YEA on OTP/A
more information — This is a good bill that will direct special education funding directly to the school that provides the services to those students. It is important to support this bill as amended and not make additional changes.
*HB 253, relative to the requirements for filing a charter school application
committee recommendation — Inexpedient to Legislate, vote 14-6
position — YEA on ITL
more information — This nasty bill seeks to change the charter school approval process by allocating 25% of total possible points in an application to a single subjective criteria (out of 26), the proposed chartered public school’s mission statement. It is nothing more than an attempt to block chartered schools. This bill is mostly split along party lines.
HB 301, establishing a committee to study New Hampshire’s statewide longitudinal data system and any other department of education maintained database that contains student level data
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass with Amendment, vote 12-7
position — YEA
more information — This bill was diluted to create a study committee, but is an important step for identifying the type of student information kept in the state’s education database, how it is used, and who has access to it for what purposes.
HB 555, relative to participation of chartered public school students in school district co-curricular activities
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass
position — YEA on OTP
more information — This bill clarifies existing statute that says charter school students may participate in co-curricular activities of their resident district. This bill passed the House in March 2015, so it will go to the Senate for a vote when the 2016 session begins.
*SB 157, relative to encouraging high school students to take and pass a United States citizens test
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass with Amendment, vote 14-5
position — NAY on OTP/A
more information — Regardless of the subject matter or intent, the legislature should not be involved in telling school districts what should be required for graduation or taught in the schools. It micromanages our districts and reduces local control. This bill requires a “competency assessment” as part of a mandatory class for graduation. It is not optional, as the title implies, making it an unfunded mandate, against the NH Constitution. Because this is a new amendment, if this bill passes the House, it must go before the Senate again for a vote. For more information, read Top-Down Education in SB 157 Defies Local Control and Good Intentions and Bad Bills guest published on Granite Grok.
HB 471, relative to the powers of the state board of education
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass with Amendment, vote 12-8
position — YEA on OTP/A
more information — This bill specifies the independent decisions empowered to local school boards with regards to curriculum, standards, courses provided, and student assessments in years when a statewide exam is not mandated.
HB 611, requiring legislative approval of all agreements, contracts, grants, or waivers involving the department of education or the state board of education
committee recommendation — Inexpedient to Legislate, vote 14-5
position — NAY on ITL
more information — This good bill would improve transparency and accountability when the DOE applies for grants that then imposes those conditions as mandates to local districts.